Cycling fans attending last week’s Rollapaluza Winter League event at the Half Moon pub in Herne Hill, London, were astonished to be rubbing shoulders with none other than HTC-Columbia’s star sprinter, Mark Cavendish, who was in the capital for a photoshoot.
The Manx Missile, whose recent dental problems have forced him to restrict his training and put back the start of his 2010 racing season, didn’t actually take to the rollers himself, but instead spent a couple of hours intently following the action and chatted happily with some of the 200 fans and riders packed into the South London Venue.
In what is proving to be a busy winter for Rollapaluza – next Friday 12 February sees another round of the Winter League series, this time in Cambridge – two former England international sportsmen did go head to head on the rollers at a separate event in London on Thursday evening.
The occasion was the launch of ex-England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio’s Cycle Slam charity ride, which will take the big forward on a 2,800km trip through Britain, Ireland, France and Italy to visit all six of the stadia used in the RBS Six Nations tournament, which began this weekend.
Dallaglio challenged former England football star Led Ferdinand to a 500m race over the rollers – shown in the photo gallery above – but the ex-Wasps player, despite setting a time of 25.62 seconds, equivalent to 44mph, was beaten by Ferdinand, who came in at 22.35 seconds, just topping 50mph.
Full details of next week’s Winter League event in Cambridge are available on the Rollapaluza website, and further dates will take place in Southampton on Sunday 28 February, and in Manchester on a date yet to be announced. The team will also be involved in the UK Courier Championships in London on 19 February.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.